April 30, 2020

Young people use poetry to speak out about mental health

Youth Access team

In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to speak out about our mental health. For a group of inspiring young activists, the best way to do this is through poetry.

As part of Our Minds Our Future, a youth-led campaign co-ordinated by the charity Youth Access calling for young people’s human right to mental healthcare to be realised, the group have put on a series of poetry events in Leeds, and organised a national poetry competition for young people who want to speak out about mental health, judged by a panel of leading academics.

The result is an anthology of 25 poems penned by young people across the country, which is published online on Thursday 30 April. The anthology presents a wide variety of perspectives on mental health and the challenges young people face in accessing the support they need.

As one of the judging panel, Paul Whybrow, lecturer at Hull York Medical School, said:

“Poetry, and other art, can sometimes express thoughts and feelings that are otherwise invisible, unsaid or misconstrued. For me, many of these excellent poems were not only beautiful in their own right but also captured some of the important but unspoken challenges and bravery of living with mental health problems.”

You can download the full anthology below. Content warning: some poems contain strong language. All the poems are written from experience of mental health issues and other trauma, and some people may find parts of them disturbing.

Update, 5 May: It has come to our attention that the version of the anthology originally uploaded misattributed one of the poems to Nick Drake. The anthology has been updated to correctly attribute the poem Primary Colors to Chloë Williams. The corrected version can be downloaded from the link above.

Update, 27 May: The version of the poem previously uploaded featured an older draft of Emma-Jane Barlow’s poem Did You Know? . This has been amended and the newer version can be downloaded from the link above.


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